December 7, 2018



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
Last week, I talked about how Advent is a season of waiting. Nobody likes waiting, but I think that’s mostly because it sounds passive to us: waiting, as in being in the waiting room for your doctor, or waiting on your car to be fixed, or waiting in line at the DMV. 
So we talked instead about waiting in the sense of preparing, as when John the Baptist calls on the people to “prepare the way of the Lord,” as he does in our New Testament lesson for Sunday. That is a much more active kind of waiting; but how? John talks about raising up valleys and smoothing out rough places in order to literally prepare the way, making a highway for the coming Messiah to journey on more quickly and easily than climbing mountains and traversing ravines.
So what does it mean in our lives to make a smooth and straight path for Jesus? Well, one way is making the world a little bit more like God always intended it to be: a place of compassion, love, justice, and peace.

This Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent, the theme of the Advent Wreath is peace. The Biblical understanding of peace, as I think we all probably know, doesn’t simply mean a lack of conflict, but rather a positive wholeness and harmony for all. So the Biblical understanding of peace, then, has inherent commitments of justice, unity, and reconciliation, because those are the crucial ingredients of peace.

So how are we supposed to do anything meaningful about that ? It sounds like a tall order. And it is. It requires both commitment and cooperation, because it’s too big of a task for any of us to do much on our own.
The Children’s Chat portion of
our Traditional Service is always uplifting!
I’d like to suggest that our own First Presbyterian Giving Tree, though, is a great example of how to start doing that. Getting gifts for people is a very common way of preparation in this season; but those are always Christmas gifts.

Have you ever considered what an Advent gift might look like? I think they would look like the gifts on the Giving Tree. Why? First, because they are gifts that help change scarcity into abundance; by giving the gift of tools or livestock, for example, we help give people the capacity to start changing their own lives and communities over time, addressing systemic issues rather than momentary needs.

Second, because they are gifts that are done in partnership. By working with the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, we help pool our gifts with those from Presbyterians all over the country so that the gifts work together to help whole communities fight against poverty and uplift themselves. And perhaps most importantly, they are Advent gifts: they help smooth the way for Jesus by transforming the world, piece by piece, to look more and more like the kingdom of God that Christ is establishing.

So, when you’re next at church, check out the Giving Tree in Fellowship Hall and see what some of those gifts can do. And then consider whether you can give an Advent gift of your own to join the thousands of others that are helping prepare the way of the Lord!

Grace and Peace,
  • Hospitality will be offered after each of our two services, in Fellowship Hall. Be sure to drop by the Giving Tree and the Lemon Tree Bazaar (details below).
  • The Bach Choir of Bethlehem Christmas Concert will be presented at 4 PM in the Sanctuary; tickets required from
Copies of this season’s Advent Devotional (right) are now available to pick up at church. Also watch our Facebook page for our “Advent Word of the Day” series and participate if you like, with your own reflections and/or images.

And here’s an easy way to tell your friends and neighbors about our many inspirational December events and activities: we have a colorful postcard that you can mail. Add a personal message if you like, affix first class postage and drop in the mail. Or place them in a public spot where they’ll be noticed – thank you for helping us spread the word!
"Every generous act of giving is from above."  So it is related in James 1:17.

During the Advent and Christmas season, the church’s response to God’s generosity takes on the very character of our savior. Jesus came to lead God’s people. He pointed to God through love and justice, peace and compassion, forgiveness and humility. The Presbyterian Church USA reflects God’s gift to us, through the Christmas Joy Offering, with gifts supporting church leaders, retired, present and future.

Envelopes and informational brochures are at the end of each pew and in the racks throughout the church. This offering will be taken each Sunday through December 23.
 We Accept Gifts of Appreciated Stocks
Did you know that First Presbyterian Church can receive gifts of transferred securities? You may have long ago inherited stock or held on to shares that have appreciated to the point that the individual capital gains make selling the stock unattractive.
You can directly transfer/deliver such shares of common stock to the church. The instructions to give to your broker are here.
Help us beautify our church by purchasing beautiful double poinsettias that will be used to decorate for the season – then you can take home to enjoy after you attend a Christmas Eve service.
Orders are due by Monday, December 17; use the “Flower Offering” envelope (with the poinsettia on it, pictured) that are available in the sanctuary pews, Rotunda, Narthex, and Fellowship Hall brochure racks. You can return it in the collection plate or to the Main Office.

Instead of a set price, we ask you to make a donation of your choice. You can designate your gift “in honor” or “in memory” of a loved one, if you like.
This Advent we have an incredible opportunity to make a difference to families and children across the globe. In supporting the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, we show how being a denomination of connections – people who are faithful followers of Christ – translates into real and positive impact by supporting the Presbyterian Mission.
Our Giving Tree is now in Fellowship Hall. Your family can choose from a variety of gifts, including $10 for a farming tools kit, $25 for a kitchen kit, and $40 for a piglet. Choose your ornament(s) and return all payments (made out to PCUSA) to Fellowship Hall no later than December 16 (you can also drop in the collection plate).
The Discipleship Committee will host a Family Movie Night tonight (Friday, December 7) in Fellowship Hall.

We’ll begin the evening at 6 PM by serving pizza and beverages, with the movie beginning at 6:30 PM. The movie is Wonder, a story about a 10-year-old boy with facial differences. Overcoming challenges, family, friendship and bullying are some of the topics that this film touches on. This movie is perfect for children ages seven and up and adults will enjoy it too. You are welcome to bring friends
and family!
If interested, you are also asked to bring a donation of a full-size bottle of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, disposable razors or shaving cream to be donated to the Trinity Soup Kitchen.
FPCB’s Lemon Tree Holiday Bazaar is now open for business in Fellowship Hall, offering unique, handcrafted items. You can shop ‘on the honor system’ during the week; the Bazaar will
be staffed on Sunday during our two Hospitality Hours, and that afternoon before and after the
4 PM Bach Choir Concert here at First Pres.
Items will also be available for purchase on Monday, December 10, for those attending the final Hi Neighbor event for the year. Be sure to check out this wonderful assortment of Christmas and winter centerpieces, candles, wreaths, and gift ideas.
Hearts N Minds has begun a four week Advent study this Sunday based on the book,
Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent , by Pamela Hawkins. Please join us even if you've not read the book or attended last week.
The first two Sundays in January, Ron Helmuth will lead the Hearts N Minds class in an exploration of the lectionary readings from the prior Sunday. We are starting the New Year with a planful study of Scripture and how to apply it to our daily living. Then, on January 20, the class will begin a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.
HI NEIGHBORS: Join us for this special end-of-the-year program
This Monday is the last Hi Neighbors session of the calendar year; new programming will begin in March.

Fellowship begins at 9:15 AM, followed by a special performance by the Liberty High School A Capella Choir. Enjoy a light lunch after the entertainment.
Preschool to Grade 5

For the 9:00 service, the class is in room A4 in the childcare suite on the first floor of the Kirk Center (near the Kirk Center lobby). Parents are asked to bring their children to A4 before the service.

During the 10:30 service, the children will attend the first part of worship with their families and leave with their teachers after the Children’s Chat. Please remember to sign up your children in the Narthex before going into the service.

The same curriculum will be used in both classes, and, as in the past, child care will be available during both services for younger children. If you have any questions, please contact  Elizabeth Conard .
Anyone affected by depression – either suffering themselves or having a friend or loved one who is experiencing it – is welcome to attend FPCB’s Depression Support Group. The next meeting is Wednesday, December 12 from 6-8 PM in room 206
(PW room). This group is open to all. For more information contact Melody Engel .
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem

  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service
  • 9:00 AM Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 AM Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:30 AM Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 10:30 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (Children attend first part of worship service), Room E3-4
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 AM to 12 PM, Room A3

MONDAYS:  It’s a Start fitness class, 10 AM, Middle School Step
MONDAYS:  Hi Neighbors, 9:15 AM, Fellowship Hall (last session of the year)
TUESDAYS:  Easy Balance and Strength fitness class, 9:30 AM, Room 178
TUESDAYS:  Handbell Choir rehearsal, 5:30-6:30 PM, Middle School Step
WEDNESDAYS: Depression Support Group, 6-8 PM, Room 206 - PW Room (last session
of the year)
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 PM, Sanctuary

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (December 18 and January 8) : Successful Aging,
10:30 AM, Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (December 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1:00 PM,
Room 206 (PW Room)

Sunday, December 16 at 4 PM: Christmas Joy Concert featuring the Chancel Choir and
the Touring Choir of Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts

Wednesday, December 19 at 6:30 PM : Longest Night Service (for anyone experiencing a loss of any kind)

Monday, December 24 ( Christmas Eve ):
   5 PM: Intergenerational Service (a service designed for all ages with both traditional
and contemporary music)
   7:30 PM: Traditional Candlelight Service 
   11 PM: Christmas Communion

 CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: Office hours are  Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to
4 PM.   As always, you may leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865.

CARE CONCERNS AND HOSPITAL VISITS: If members of the FPCB congregation are hospitalized and would welcome pastoral and hospital ministrant visitors and/or prayers, please contact:
    Melody Engel, Hospital Ministrants, phone: 484-695-4905 or email 
    Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrants,  phone: 610-867-8361 or email   

BAPTISMS, WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS : If members of the FPCB congregation would like to schedule weddings, baptisms or funerals, please contact The Rev. Sue Bennetch at 610-867-5865, ext. 209.
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 ∙ 610-867-5865

The Rev. J.C. Austin , Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213,

The Rev. Sue Bennetch , Pastoral Care Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Andrea Barbehenn , Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;